Good morning from London where I’ve spent the last couple of days at a conference and one day being absolutely overwhelmed as a tourist. I get panicked in large crowds and London has them everywhere! I know that large crowds are a fear of mine so I’m not complaining about the crowds. I have to go out and overcome my fear. That’s exactly what I did yesterday when I took the subway then walked to the British Museum (big thanks to my friend Denise for letting me vent my anxiety via Facebook messaging later).
What’s Your Social Fear?
Crowds are my biggest social fear. For some people sharing their ideas is their social fear.
Putting your ideas “out there” for the world to read on your blog is can be a scary thing. Anything can happen after you hit the “post” button and release your ideas into the wild. This is what leads some of us to scale back our ideas, to not reveal everything, or to be too politically correct. This is something that I just realized about myself in the last six months or so. This has caused me to not promote my workshops and webinars as much as I could have. In fact, in thinking back on it I let one comment from one person on my Facebook page crush me back on the promotion of my workshops and webinars.
Free Technology for Teachers is not an opinion blog. Sure, I offer my thoughts about how I would use a particular app, but I rarely say anything about hot-button issues in education. I haven’t wanted to go there. I’ve built Free Technology for Teachers around the model of providing lots of information, some ideas, and then hoping for pageviews to in turn lead to good advertising revenue (again, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started in 2007). It’s worked for me, but if I had to start all over again I’m not sure I would go with that model. The blogging model I use on Free Technology for Teachers demands that I post new content every day in order to compete for eyeballs and in turn ad revenue. As Seth Godin has written many times, it’s better to have a small tribe of loyal fans than it is to have a massive audience that is less engaged. So if I were to start over, as I am kind of doing with Worms In the Fridge, I would focus more on building that small tribe of loyal fans than competing for the fleeting attention of millions. Small tribes can be very powerful and in turn attract more people.
Building that loyal following of a small tribe means that people need to know what you really think about certain topics. For example, if you really want to know, I hate writing “list posts” because it’s a cheap SEO ploy and most of the lists don’t offer much in the way of new information. I much prefer to write “how to” posts that teachers can really learn from. I do write list posts on Free Technology for Teachers only to compete with a couple of blogs that have come along in the last couple years that seem to only write headlines for SEO. You’ve seen those blogs, every post seems to be a list with a title along the lines of 71 awesome ways to make Common Core your best friend. 70 of those ways usually suck. Either that or it’s just an infographic which usually comes from a link farm that sucks too.
I have to thank Doug Johnson for the previous paragraph. Doug recently challenged my thinking on the idea of posting opinions. Doug writes, “If you aren’t making your readers mad sometimes, you probably are playing it too safe.” He’s right. It’s because of Doug that I included the part about hating list posts in the previous paragraph and removed the following from the preceding paragraph,
The only infographics I share these days come from Cool Infographics which actually critiques infographics for quality of design and information. By the way, the Cool Infographics book is a great resource for information about visual design.
In a lot of cases we’re too quick to apologize or “pre-apologize” for our opinions. Besides Doug’s recent post, I’ve also been inspired by Erika Napoletano’s book The Power of Unpopular along with years of reading her blog. Her language might be a bit coarse for some readers, truth be told it bugs me at times, but she is unapologetically Erika.
I won’t say “don’t worry about what people will say” because I’m well aware that for some people “not worrying about what people say” is as hard as it is for me to navigate huge crowds on my own. Instead I’ll say this…put your ideas out there and overcome your fear of what people will say.
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